Sunday, November 06, 2005

Capsule Reviews: The Prime of Mr. Truman Capote

Movie: Capote (2005)
Director/Studio: Bennett Miller / Sony Pictures Classics
10 Word Review: Compelling bio with strong portrayals; lots of layers – satisfyingly complex.
Best Thing About It: Lots to recommend here. For one thing, it's absolutely gorgeous to look at. Some really captivating cinematography. And the script seems to have aged pretty well in my head, holding up to a whole lot of initial scrutiny. Which brings us to the best thing about the movie, which has to be Phillip Seymour Hoffman's lead performance. I've never been a huge PSH fan, but he really pulls it all together here, with a skilled and surprisingly likeable turn.
Worst Thing About It: The vagueness of the script, while not as much of a detriment as I originally thought, but it still makes the film less satisfying than it could have been.
Best Performance: Has to be Hoffman. Although I can't say enough good things about Clifton Collins, Jr. as convicted murderer Perry Smith. Awesome, awesome work, and a great example of doing a lot with a little. Couldn't take my eyes off of him.
Grade: B+

Movie: Prime (2005)
Director/Studio: Ben Younger / Universal
10 Word Review: Well-written, too-loose romantic comedy. Uma, Meryl cruise on star power.
Best Thing About It: When you have Uma Thurman and Meryl Streep doing their movie star thing, you don't need much. They have several very good scenes together, including one small piece of unexpected and quiet emotion, which I loved.
Worst Thing About It: Much as I love them, though, I couldn't help but think that this movie would have worked better as an ensemble indie comedy. The central figure in the movie is still the Bryan Greenberg character, but inevitably Uma and Meryl wind up pulling focus. Which is good, but ultimately bad. It almost feels like this was a relationship movie that all of a sudden got Meryl Streep to play the mother and thus built up half the movie around her.
Best Performance: Strange as it is to say – and it seems I'm the only one actually saying it, but whatever – I was most impressed by Greenberg. He came across as very aware of his own charisma, which is a gift for an actor, I think. And I thought he walked the tightrope of oddly-mature-for-his-age-oh-wait-he's-not quite well.
Grade: B -

Movie: Kingdom of Heaven (2005)
Director/Studio: Ridley Scott / 20th Century Fox
10 Word Review: Orlando Bloom enters the Crusades and lulls us to sleep.
Best Thing About It: The silver-masked, leprosy-plagued King of Jerusalem, played by Edward Norton, even though we never see his face. Loved everything about that character, particularly the look of the mask, which gives the movie a sort of art film sheen.
Worst Thing About It: Everything else. Lord. So boring, and so long.
Best Performance: Truth be told, I liked Jeremy Irons, standing around with quiet dignity, like he usually does. I seem to always like him, and I wish he'd get better parts these days. He's won an Oscar, casting directors. Get your heads out of your asses.
Grade: C -

Movie: Wild at Heart (1990)
Director/Studio: David Lynch / PolyGram
10 Word Review: Typical Lynchian violence/weirdness blend, filmed like a mystical opera.
Best Thing About It: Watching the movie fifteen years later, and especially with the prism of Mulholland Dr. to look through, it's fun to click off the list of Lynch's stylistic and narrative staples. It's an experience, watching David Lynch, it really is.
Worst Thing About It: It's not always an easy experience. It's Lynch's way to have not everything make sense, so there are a lot of tangents that aren't necessary, and while some of them work in their own right, some of them don't. Plus … Nicolas Cage … singing Elvis. I know.
Best Performance: Diane Ladd gives just about the weirdest performance ever nominated for Oscar (one could argue, "until Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain came along," but I'll back off from that), but I was partial to Harry Dean Stanton in one of his typically excellent supporting turns.
Grade: B


Felipe R. said...

Capote looks very good. And so Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is probably a lock in Best Actor this year.
Maybe a nod to Clifton too, who knows.
And you didn't say anything about Catherine Keener.

Joe R. said...

Loved Catherine Keener. I always do. She doesn't have a ton to do in Capote, but what she does, she does well, as usual.

PSH is indeed a lock for a nomination. I'd be psyched if Clifton Collins got one, too.

Anonymous said...

God, Wild at Heart is brilliant. Loved it. Diane Ladd's perf is super-special.